Addressing Homelessness in Singapore
OPEN HOME NETWORK
"We don't need more shelters, we need more homes"
The Open Home Network encourages and enables Singaporeans to open up their homes as a place of respite for people-in-crisis (PICs).
We designed a system to match PICs with our list of host families, together with their social worker. It is a micro initiative with a big goal of spurring Singaporeans on to normalise and practice hospitality by befriending a stranger and letting them in.
The issue of homelessness is a prevailing yet well-hidden problem in Singapore. It goes beyond the physical need of having a roof over one's head to the compromising safety and well-being of the individual.
3 main categories of homelessness include:
People who sleep in public spaces due to a lack of permanent housing and accommodation
People who reside in shelters and hostels due to housing eviction, etc
People who live in overcrowded houses, who face family violence, or lack social support.
If untaken care of, the issue of homelessness could hinder an individuals' sense of identity, security and belonging, impairing their physical and mental health.
When the community comes together to support someone in crisis, we are able to provide and care for those in need in a more holistic and sustainable manner.
To build a network of care and support around such Persons-in-crisis (PICs). We envisioned a re-energized ‘kampung spirit’ - neighbourliness in action, where resources get pooled together to help the needy in an organic manner. To do so, we came up with a framework consisting of host families, community representatives, case managers, social workers and our beneficiaries - the PICs. We created an Open Home Toolkit to equip host families to better engage and care for themselves during their time hosting. We then called for host families to open up their homes and matched them according to the needs of our PIC referrals. Follow-ups and regular check-ins were conducted to ensure the well-being of both host family and PIC.
Since the launch of our project in June 2020, we have successfully hosted 6 PICs. While the concept of hosting a stranger in your home remains a foreign concept in Singapore's culture, we believe more advocacy and time would be needed to shift mindsets in the way we see hospitality. We have conducted a review of our work in OHN from Apr to Aug 2020. You may download our report here.
We will be launching the second OHN pilot (OHN 2.0), within which, we are keen on expanding the possibility of who can support and host PICs.
We will be utilising this pilot to research on the conditions necessary to equip occupants of rental flat units to host those in crisis. This project will take place in Jalan Kukoh, where community partners and assets will be mobilised to provide support for the project.